Student Bathroom Hangout Spots Bring Concerns and Issues
By Caitlyn P.
MRHS - Over the last couple years at Mountain Range High School there have been several reports about students gathering in the schools bathrooms as hangout spots. This has been creating issues and the concerns among both staff and students
The first issue is that students use the bathroom to vape. Many students' responses from a recent survey complained that most of the time students hanging out in the bathroom are almost always vaping. Some reported students would pass around a vape to the other group members. This has brought up a lot of negative reception to the bathrooms, many turning right out of bathrooms the moment they walk in due to the smell.
“One time I walked into the bathroom and it smelled so musty I had to leave immediately” Lalani M., a MRHS student responded “Once I was trying to wash my hands and a kid turned to me and blew a smoke cloud in my face”. She went on saying that it irritated her throat the rest of the day. Another report complained that the smell caused their eyes to be watery and their throat itchy all day.
Another issue is the sanitary issues arise from these hangout groups in that bathroom. From a recent survey given out to 100 MRHS students, many report that the groups normally hang out in the main area of the bathroom. “They are either just chatting or eating on the floor or on the counter.”
An article from the New York Times referred to multiple studies on what sickness you can get from public restrooms: “Salmonella in dorm toilets; and hepatitis A in elementary school restrooms. Plenty of research has also documented the presence of pathogenic microbes on toilets and other surfaces in public restrooms, as Dr. Donner’s recent article summarized” In summary the article goes over the many ways pathogens (bacteria, viries, etc) can be found and transferred. If students decide to hangout in the bathrooms they are at high risk of having a ‘fecal-oral route’ which is when pathogens come into contact with your body.
Some students claim that the bathroom was the only safe place/escape. This response was addressed by Mr. Zappia, MRHS assistant principal.“That's really concerning that they don't think any of their classrooms, the outside, or even the cafeteria is safe. As those places are the most supervised” He went on to add, “I hope they’d come talk to one of the staff about it, as nobody should feel unsafe at school.”
“The school bathrooms are a privilege not a right” Madison P. , a senior at MRHS responded when they were asked how they felt on the matter of student bathroom hangout spots. This relates back to the 2021 issue in which students would vandalize and steal from the bathroom. To which the school had to enforce multiple rules (that was then lifted the next year) on the use of bathrooms. Many students agreed that during that time it was nice knowing that school staff paid attention, and that the bathrooms were less crowded because of it.
The main problem with that is the fact that the school has since increased in the amount of kids in the building with online classes not as needed and a sudden new addition of a couple hundred new students. The building becomes overcrowded, and the staff members can not be responsible for it all. Even hall monitors can look out for so much, but when the hallways are jam packed, bathrooms are not the main focus.
Yet, passing periods seem to have the worst of the problem. “I try to go during passing periods so I don’t have to miss class,” Lanani M, MRHS student states, “but immediately turn around and leave when I walk in and see upwards of 20 girls (sometimes) in the bathroom.” She goes on with “It is extremely annoying to think about the fact that people who are actually trying to use the bathroom have to hold it, and the people that are crowding in the bathroom are really rude when others walk in as if we are the ones out of place.”
The vaping issue students seem to complain about is rarely brought up to adults. “We don't know if we should be ratting out students in the bathroom vaping” a MRHS female student expressed their confusion, “ If it’s serious sometimes it’s hard to find a hall monitor without walking across the school.” The matter of fact is that there is little to no security around these easily accessible areas.
This is an ongoing issue,but small changes on both parts will hopefully resolve these issues with students hanging out in the bathroom. If the change happens then the school will become a safer and more comfortable place.
Caitlynn P. is a MRHS and Future Forward student currently in her senior year. She has received experience in formatting text for double page spread magazines from a Graphic Design project. They spend most of their time pursuing their passion for art. They’ve won several competitions with their creative designs and the ability to speak their ideas to a crowd. She gained interest in Journalism when being a part of Ms. DeStasio’s class in her previous year. They have a unique outlook for the school as she saw it before and after the pandemic changes. Their writing is to be aimed for others to take notice of problems or situations ongoing at the school. Caitlynn’s skill resides with creativity as she won first place in a poem contest in their final year of middle school. For her final year she hopes to keep a time capsule of her final year of high school with her writing